Day 16. Position 14:49.967N 56:14.364W

Mon 8 Dec 2008 20:26
Well, have we had an eventful 24 hours or what!!! Yesterday afternoon, and
with the winds of between 13 and 15 knots and coming from the North/North
East, we decided that we would stick up the kite (the coloured sail that
sticks out of the front of a boat when going downwind!). We have had the
kite up many times already on this trip but this was the first time for a
week or so that we had had winds that were strong enough and coming from the
right direction to attempt this. She was like a different boat altogether -
she lifted up her skirt and started running for it!! We were regularly
hitting the heady heights of 10-11 knots of boat speed and so we really
started eating up the miles.

Night time fell and the decision was taken to leave the kite up for a long
as possible overnight in order to take advantage of the conditions. What a
sail! It was awesome! It wasn't until 4.30am and with winds gusting over 20
knots that we decided to take the kite down. Foredeck work like this,
especially at this time of the morning is interesting to say the least!!!

We did 212 miles yesterday which is our highest daily mileage on the trip so

Once again the night skies were amazing last night and probably even the
best so far. There were shooting stars everywhere.

Today has to have been the hottest day so far. So hot that we decided to put
up the bimini over the steering position in order to give some shade to
those who are on watch.

Late morning brought the news that we had a problem with the boat - a major
problem. Our skipper Tom had discovered on his morning 'chaff check' that
our mast was moving ever so slightly which is highly unusual, especially on
a new boat. The decision was therefore taken to immediately drop all the
sails and to put the engine on until we had the opportunity to investigate
how serious the problem was. We still haven't got to the root of the problem
however there is no question that the mast is moving within its step which
it shouldn't be and so we have done what we can to secure it in position on
a temporary basis which will at least allow us 'limp' home. This is again
very disappointing however on a more positive note, at least the problem was
discovered before it was too late and before it caused major injury or even
catastrophe. A few calls were put into the spar manufacturers in Holland and
their technical people are working on things as we speak. We'll keep you
updated on this.

By mid afternoon the winds had steadied and the seas had subsided so the
decision was taken to gently ease out the sails and to get underway again.
There are a lot of very nervous people on board here this evening as we
listen intently to every creak and groan that the boat makes. We're not sure
how much sleep we are going to get tonight!!!!!

Late this afternoon Tim held a splicing class for those that were interested
or not resting!! Lesson two is tomorrow - it's going to be the same as
today's lesson but undoing the mess we made of the ropes in today's

We now have only 279 miles to go. Assuming we can average 8 knots, and
barring any (further) hiccups on the way, then we are hopeful of arriving
into St Lucia at some point on Wednesday morning the 10th December. 4 boats
have finished already and according to the ARC website we are still sitting
13th overall and the 4th Oyster. Our guess is that we may have lost a couple
of places this afternoon as a consequence of us having to take the sails
down for a bit but hey ho, at least we are in one piece!

So that's today's news. Only two more night watches to go (we hope) and not
long now before we can have these long awaited rum punches and cold

Two photos this today; one of last night's sunset; and one of Tom's splicing
class taken by Alex our own David Bailey!!r!!

JPEG image

JPEG image